Monthly Wrap Up

January 2013 Books Read

Wow. Did I have one heck of a reading month! SEVEN books! Say what?! Seriously it’s been over a year since I’ve read that many books in one month! I just had some really good reads and never got bogged down. There are a couple of books that I can’t link to their reviews yet … one is scheduled for later in February and one is scheduled for April.

The One I Left BehinduntitledBloody Mary ResurrectA Murder at Rosamund's GateDeath Has its BenefitsThe Man From 2063

Clicking on the book covers will take you to the reviews …except for A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate and The Man From 2063 which are scheduled for April 23rd and February 26th, respectively.

DNF #1

Silent Partner

Books Read: 7
Pages Read: 2,322
New-to-Me Authors: 6
Fiction: 7

  • Historical Fiction: 2
  • Mystery/Thriller: 4
  • Romantic Suspense: 1

Non-Fiction: 0
Review Books: 6
Personal Books: 1
Books Acquired: 22
Books Sent to New Homes: 5
Favorite Book Read this Month: Oooh, so hard to pick …. probably The One I Left Behind with A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate very close behind.

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Recipes

RECIPE: Chicken and Artichoke Pasta

Chicken and Artichoke Pasta (5 servings)

  • 4 cups uncooked bow tie pasta
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, undrained
  • 1 can (14 ounces) water-packed quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

 

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute chicken in 1 tablespoon oil until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
  2. In the same skillet, saute mushrooms and onions in remaining oil until tender; add wine, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the tomatoes, artichokes, salt and chicken. Cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until heated through.
  3. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Gradually stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in basil. Drain pasta; serve with chicken mixture and cheese.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home

photo (18)

Personal Review: We love artichokes. Like love love love artichokes. So I was excited to give this recipe a try.

It was very easy to prepare – makes a great weeknight meal if you want something quick and easy.

My one and only complaint was that I didn’t care for the mushrooms in this one – but I’m pretty picky about mushrooms in my food … Nathan thought they went perfectly in this recipe.

I served this with a salad and garlic bread.

A, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.6 REVIEW – Death Has Its Benefits by Ronald Aiken

Death Has Its Benefits
by Ronald Aiken

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 271
Read: Jan. 23 – 27, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 6
Format: Print
Source: Author

Death Has its BenefitsBlurb:  What would you do if your best friend told you his boss was going to kill him? Try to save his life because he once saved yours? Well if you’re Tony Benson, and your best friend is a prankster like Leo Radigan, you’d do nothing, just laugh it off and say, “That’s a novel approach to work-force reduction.” If only it was that simple.

Leo’s boss, the mysterious Hike Meurtens, is an influential businessman and philanthropist, but Leo insists he’s not the man he appears to be. “With this guy you gotta give an arm to keep a leg,” he insists.

At first, Tony believes Leo’s ever increasing paranoia is fueled by problems at home – a bad marriage, spoiled kids and rising debt. After all, why would a man of Muertens’ stature commit murder? But as Tony tries to help his friend through his personal crisis, he finds himself being drawn into Leo’s paranoid world, and begins to wonder if there might be something to his crazy tales, after all.

As paranoia becomes reality, Tony’s darker side emerges and he must successfully navigate his way through the state’s mental health and criminal justice system to save his own life.


Review: I received this book via the author after being contacted by his PR rep.

Do you want a non-stop, thrill ride, edge-of-your-seat-suspense thriller? Then this is the book for you! The book starts and really never let me go, I was hooked from the very beginning. With the short chapters this book was very easy to get sucked into 50 pages before I knew what had happened.

I thought that the storyline was interesting – your boss wants to kill you? I don’t think that’s a storyline I’ve ever encountered! Definitely a nice thing to happen after reading so many mystery/thriller novels!

I think what I liked so much about this book was the real feel to it. The dialogue felt real, not forced. The characters felt real, the storyline never dragged – overall a very good read.

I am amazed that this is a debut – I can only look forward to seeing Mr. Aiken’s books in the future. Highly recommended.

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #5

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Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

Today I’m featuring a review book that I am currently reading. My review will be posted on Feb. 26th, so I hope you will come back and check out what my final thoughts were.

The Man From 2063

The flame stood out like a beacon of light in a sea of darkness. It was probably the most famous flame in the world, for it honored the grave of President John F. Kennedy.

It was November 22, 2063, exactly one hundred years to the day since President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The grave of JFK was mobbed with tourists on that bright, sunny fall day, all eager to see the martyred president’s final resting place. One tourist had a small radio playing softly in the background. Suddenly, a news broadcast came on.

Another historical fiction for me this week – I must be on a historical fiction kick! Either way, I am obsessed with all things Kennedy. So when I was pitched this book I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Going into it I had a feeling that it would be like Stephen King’s recent 11/22/63 – which I actually DNF’d. However, so far this book has been a much better fit for me. I’m about 100 pages into it and thoroughly enjoying it. Besides, with an intro like that, doesn’t it make you want to find out what happens on that news broadcast?

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, January 28, 2013

Mailbox Monday time again! And January’s host is Lori’s Reading Corner.

Just one book this week (good thing after last week’s haul!) From my Paperbackswap Wish-List:

11th Hour

Lindsay Boxer is pregnant at last! But her work doesn’t slow for a second. When millionaire Chaz Smith is mercilessly gunned down, she discovers that the murder weapon is linked to the deaths of four of San Francisco’s most untouchable criminals. And it was taken from her own department’s evidence locker. Anyone could be the killer – even one of her closest friends.

Lindsay is called next to the most bizarre crime scene she’s ever witnessed: two bodiless heads elaborately displayed on the patio of a world-famous actor’s home. Five more heads are unearthed in his garden, and Lindsay realizes that the grounds may hold hundreds of victims.

A reporter launches a series of vicious articles about the cases, and Lindsay’s personal life is laid bare. But this time she has no one to turn to – especially not Joe, her husband. 11th Hour is the most shocking, most emotional, and most thrilling Women’s Murder Club novel ever.

DNF Books

2013 DNF #1: Silent Partner by Jonathan Kellerman

Silent Partner
by Jonathan Kellerman

Copyright: 1989
Pages: 484
Format: Print

Blurb: At a party for a controversial Los Angeles sex therapist, Alex Delaware encounters a face from his own past – Sharon Ransom, an exquisite, alluring lover who left him abruptly more than a decade earlier. Sharon now hints that she desperately needs help, but Alex evades her. The next day she is dead, an apparent suicide.

Driven by guilt and sadness, Alex plunges into the maze of Sharon’s life – a journey that will take him through the pleasure palaces of California’s ultrarich, into the alleyways of the mind, where childhood terrors still hold sway.


Here’s the deal – I got 180 pages into this book and just couldn’t make myself go any further. I knew there was sex therapy involved based on the blurb, but I had no idea just how detailed things would get. I’m not easily offended by sex in books, but this one was just a little too much in my opinion. I kept waiting and waiting, trying to figure out where the book would go, but I eventually realized that there would be no way I would even want to write a review if I pushed through to the end and that it wasn’t really worth it to continue reading a book I wasn’t in to. There are plenty of other books on my shelves, plenty other Alex Delaware books. I’m just going to let this one go.

Have any of you ever read this book? What was your opinion of it?

AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, NetGalley, Read in 2013, Review Book, S

2013.4 REVIEW – Resurrect by David E. Stevens

Resurrect
by David E. Stevens

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 274
Read: Jan. 8 – 18, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 4
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley

ResurrectBlurb:  Preventing his burning fighter from crashing into a neighborhood, Navy Commander Josh Logan ejects…too late. Critically injured, he’s offered a new life and mission – exploit highly classified military technology to stop a global cataclysm. The price? He’ll be dead to everyone he knows.

Creating a counterfeit classified program, his team develops the world’s most powerful weapon, ostensibly to protect humanity. The more he learns, the more he questions the identity of his benefactors and reality itself, as quantum and metaphysics intersect. With no agency claiming his black program, the government closes in and he has one chance to demonstrate the weapon’s real purpose as the clock counts down to the end of humanity.


Review: I first saw this book reviewed on another blog I follow (gosh darn it – why don’t I ever write down where I read these reviews?! UGH!) I was immediately intrigued and saw that it was available on NetGalley. I was approved and let it sit on my Nook for a bit until I started it.

The book starts out with a bang and never really lets up. You can immediately tell that the author is very familiar with what he’s writing about and it makes all the technical wording work much smoother when the author can easily put it into layman’s terms.

Overall I enjoyed this book, but I did have one issue. I really never liked Josh’s character. There was just something off about him. It started with his feelings about starting a family with his wife and just continued when he “came back” in another body and how he began to treat those trying to get close to him. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain without giving away the entire book.

I also have to say that this is the first in a trilogy – I had no idea that it was part of a trilogy until I finished the book with some major questions. Oops! Oh well, it really doesn’t hurt my opinion of the book, just makes me realize I have to keep an eye out for the next book if I want to get closure 🙂

Overall this book, part military, part science-fiction, was a thrilling read that will appeal to a wide variety. And it’s been optioned for a movie – impressive for a debut. Definitely recommended.

First chapter, Meme

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros #4

20120807-073336.jpg

Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts this meme.

Wow, I haven’t participated in one of these since October! Whew! Time sure does fly by quickly. Anyway, I’m going to share the intro to a review book I’m reading right now.

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate

A great pounding at the door startled the chambermaid bending to light the morning hearth. Jerking upright, Lucy Campion swore softly as a bit of hot beeswax stung her wrist. Slapping the taper on the mantel, she sneaked a glance over her shoulder. She could hear Bessie and Cook rattling pots in the kitchen, but the rest of the magistrate’s household was still. Her muttered oath had not carried. Though theirs was not a stringent Puritan family, the magistrate frowned on ill language, and Lucy always took care not to annoy him.

I’m almost 100 pages into this book (publish date: April 23, 2013) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I haven’t really gotten to the “murder mystery” part of the book yet, but Ms. Calkins is doing a great job setting the scene and I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the book unfold.

How about you – what are you reading this week? Jump on in and share the first bit of what you’re reading 🙂

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, January 21, 2013

Mailbox Monday time again! And January’s host is Lori’s Reading Corner.

I know better than to go to the library book sale … but I went 🙂 Got some good older books 🙂

Don't Say a Word  The Third Secret  The Pillars of the Earth  The Negotiator The Unspoken Hot Blooded Bonnie Eve Quinn The Sigma Protocol Obstruction of Justice Writ of Execution Undone All Fall Down


And I also got one review book:

Black Ops Section 8

Section 8: The Men and women called upon by The Organization to do the impossible. They are the soldiers who have nothing to lose. They make up a top-secret unit tasked with what others call suicide missions.

The Organization pulled strings long before the founding of the United States. It dates back to the destruction of the Knights Templar and even further in history. As secrets from the Golden Lilly Operation and the infamous Unit 731 from World War II become exposed, you have to wonder who the real enemy is.

Captain Jim Vaughn is an officer in disgrace. Commanding a Special Forces mission to rescue hostages in the Philippines, Vaughn’s team is destroyed, and when the smoke clears, he is the one made the scapegoat. Forced into the shadows by the scandal, Vaughn is offered a chance to redeem himself when he is approached by an enigmatic government agent working for The Organization looking for a few desperate men.

Vaughn is shocked to meet his new teammates, a group of men and women outside of the regular chain of command. These are soldiers who have used up all their second chances. These are men and women who have crossed the line one too many times. Drug users. Felons. The terminally ill. These are now the soldiers that Vaughn must trust with his life. Even with a traitor in their ranks. But is the traitor actually the patriot?

This group of misfits has been assembled for two reasons – they are skilled, and they are expendable. These are the kinds of men and women who are needed to attempt missions the government can’t acknowledge, the country can’t condone, and the team cannot fail. But the deeper Vaughn gets into the unique group, the more he realizes that The Organization may be concealing more than the rap sheets of its most unusual operators. A team of such unique properties is the perfect tool to use against America’s enemies … and possibly America itself.

Recipes

RECIPE: Skillet Beef & Potatoes

Skillet Beef & Potatoes (4 servings)

  • 3 medium potatoes, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound beef top sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 2 teaspoons garlic pepper blend
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

Directions

  1. Place potatoes, water and salt in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 6-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender; drain.
  2. Season beef with pepper blend. In a large skillet, stir-fry beef and onion in 2 tablespoons oil for 5 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Meanwhile, in another skillet, stir-fry potatoes in remaining oil for 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in beef mixture. Sprinkle with rosemary.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home

photo (1)

Personal Review: Wow, I really thought this was a great recipe!! It was very easy and came together quickly for a perfect weeknight meal.

I never knew you could cook potatoes in water in the microwave. Talk about speeding things up. When I finally had them in the skillet I added a little bit of seasoned salt to them (it’s what we like on our fried potatoes).

This meal had good flavoring. I recommend using a better steak cut than I used (flank steak) because some of the pieces of meat were a little tough (but it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the meal for us).

I served this with rice because it’s what I had on hand … I really need to get better about planning my sides for my meals. A nice side salad would be the perfect complement to this meal.

Definitely a recipe that’s going to be a keeper in our house.